Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Ashok Bhushan and MR Shah*, JJ has held that Magistrate can in exercise of powers under Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code order/direct the concerned Incharge/SHO of the police station to lodge/register crime case/FIR even for the offences under the the Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act) and the Rules framed thereunder and at this stage the bar under Section 22 of the MMDR Act shall not be attracted.

The Court was hearing a case relating to offences under Sections 379 and 414 IPC, Sections 4/21 of the MMDR Act and Rule 18 of the M.P. Minerals (Prevention of illegal Mining, Transportation and Storage) Rules, 2006 where the Magistrate in exercise of powers conferred under Section 156(3), Cr.P.C. suo motu directed to register criminal case under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C. for initiation of investigation and for submitting of report after due investigation is conducted. The concerned In-charge/SHOs of the concerned police stations was also directed to register the first information report and a copy of the first information report be sent to the learned Magistrate as per the provisions of Section 157, Cr.P.C. The Madhya Pradesh High Court had refused to quash the criminal proceedings.

It hence, concluded

i) that the Magistrate can in exercise of powers under Section 156(3) of the Code order/direct the concerned Incharge/SHO of the police station to lodge/register crime case/FIR even for the offences under the MMDR Act and the Rules made thereunder and at this stage the bar under Section 22 of the MMDR Act shall not be attracted;

ii) the bar under Section 22 of the MMDR Act shall be attracted only when the Magistrate takes cognizance of the offences under the MMDR Act and Rules made thereunder and orders issuance of process/summons for the offences under the MMDR Act and Rules made thereunder;

iii) for commission of the offence under the IPC, on receipt of the police report, the Magistrate having jurisdiction can take cognizance of the said offence without awaiting the receipt of complaint that may be filed by the authorised officer for taking cognizance in respect of violation of various provisions of the MMDR Act and Rules made thereunder; and

iv) that in respect of violation of various provisions of the MMDR Act and the Rules made thereunder, when a Magistrate passes an order under Section 156(3) of the Code and directs the concerned In-charge/SHO of the police station to register/lodge the crime case/FIR in respect of the violation of various provisions of the Act and Rules made thereunder and thereafter after investigation the concerned In-charge of the police station/investigating officer submits a report, the same can be sent to the concerned Magistrate as well as to the concerned authorised officer as mentioned in Section 22 of the MMDR Act and thereafter the concerned authorised officer may file the complaint before the Magistrate along with the report submitted by the concerned investigating officer and thereafter it will be open for the learned Magistrate to take cognizance after following due procedure, issue process/summons in respect of the violations of the various provisions of the MMDR Act and Rules made thereunder and at that stage it can be said that cognizance has been taken by the learned Magistrate.

v) in a case where the violator is permitted to compound the offences on payment of penalty as per sub-section 1 of Section 23A, considering sub-section 2 of Section 23A of the MMDR Act, there shall not be any proceedings or further proceedings against the offender in respect of the offences punishable under the MMDR Act or any rule made thereunder so compounded. However, the bar under sub-section 2 of Section 23A shall not affect any proceedings for the offences under the IPC, such as, Sections 379 and 414 IPC and the same shall be proceeded with further.

Considering the need for stringent provisions which may have deterrent effect so that the violators may think twice before causing damage to the earth and the nature, the Supreme Court said

“It might be true that by permitting the violators to compound the offences under the MMDR Act or the rules made thereunder, the State may get the revenue and the same shall be on the principle of person who causes the damage shall have to compensate the damage and shall have to pay the penalty like the principle of polluters to pay in case of damage to the environment. However, in view of the large scale damages being caused to the nature, the policy and object of MMDR Act and Rules are the result of an increasing awareness of the compelling need to restore the serious ecological imbalance and to stop the damages being caused to the nature.”

In the present case, on a surprise inspection, the respective Mining Inspectors checked the tractor/trolleys of the private appellants along with the minor mineral (sand/storage/yellow soil etc.) loaded in them.

[Jayant v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 989, decided on 03.12.2020]


*Justice MR Shah has penned this judgment 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: A Full Bench of Prashant Kumar Mishra, Rajendra Chandra Singh Samant and Gautam Chourdiya, JJ., has held that the prospective accused is neither necessary nor a proper party in a writ petition seeking direction for registration of FIR and investigation into a cognizable offence. The Court was answering the question formulated by the Single Judge.

The daughter of the petitioner was married to one Mithilesh Kumar. The petitioner alleged that on account of ill-treatment and demand of dowry, his daughter committed suicide by hanging. He filed an application before the police against Mithilesh and his family members. Since no action was taken by the police, the petitioner filed the writ petition seeking a direction to the police authorities to register FIR and arrest Mithilesh and his family members for committing offences punishable under Sections 498-A and 304-B IPC. The Single Judge before whom the petition was placed, referred the following question for an effective pronouncement by the Full Bench:

“Whether in a writ petition preferred under Article 226, 227 of the Constitution of India seeking direction for registration of FIR and investigation against the accused persons alleged to have committed the cognizable offence(s), the said accused persons are necessary or proper party and they are required to be noticed and heard before issuing any such writ/direction, if any?”

Relying on a catena of decisions including Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P., (2014) 2 SCC 1Union of India v. WN Chadha, 1993 Supp (4) SCC 260Anju Chaudhary v. State of U.P., (2013) 6 SCC 384; etc., the High Court observed: “In the above view of the matter, it is an absolutely settled legal position that a prospective accused has no right of hearing before registration of FIR and investigation by the police officer or before the Court including the writ court, therefore, in a writ petition seeking direction for registration of FIR and investigation into a cognizable offence, the prospective accused is neither necessary nor a proper party.”

The Full Bench answered the reference accordingly and directed the matter to be placed before the appropriate Bench for further proceedings. [Dhananjay Kumar v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2020 SCC OnLine Chh 4, decided on 30-01-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: While deciding upon the petition challenging the the defensibility and legality of Order No. 36 of 2015, passed by the Managing Director, J&K PCC, Ltd., Srinagar, directing the retirement of the petitioner from service with effect from 01.07.2015 in terms of Article 226(2) of the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Service Regulations, the Bench of M.K. Hanjura, J., held that registration of FIR or pendency of criminal case(s), cannot form the basis for a compulsory retirement of an employee in the light of such employee’s excellent/good/satisfactory Annual Performance Report (APR) and such an outlook is neither in tune nor in line with the scheme and mandate of Article 226(2) of the J&K CSR.

As per the facts of the present case, the petitioner initially worked as a daily rated worker in the respondent department and was regularized as Junior Assistant and later promoted as Assistant Manager. However various complaints were filed against the petitioner before the Vigilance Organization Kashmir (VOK), who registered an F.I.R under Sections 420, 467, 468 of RPC against the petitioner, as a consequence of which the respondent department placed the petitioner under suspension, compelling the petitioner to approach the Court. The petitioner via his counsel Arshid Andarabi, contended before the Court that the impugned Order directing the compulsory retirement is arbitrary. Per contra, the respondents contended that the order of compulsory retirement of the petitioner is neither punitive nor stigmatic, but it is based on the sacrosanct object of weeding out the inefficient officials in order to maintain a high standard of efficiency and initiative in the State services and the Courts have limited scope of judicial review in such cases

Perusing the facts and arguments, the Court observed that the exercise of the power of compulsory retirement vested in the Government (the Corporation in this case), under Article 226(2) of CSR is based on reason, justice, fairness and a just analysis and an order of compulsory retirement, taken under the safety valve of public interest, could not be treated as a major punishment. However the order of compulsory retirement can be subjected to judicial scrutiny, if the Court is satisfied that the order passed is mala fide; or that it is based on no evidence; or that it is arbitrary. The Court was of the opinion that the practice followed by the Corporation in directing compulsory retirement for the petitioner was completely unwarranted because that would violate the basic maxim of ‘innocent until proved guilty’. The Court also observed that via the impugned Order the State has applied this principle in the reverse. The Court also took notice the petitioner has had a satisfactory employment record with a proven valid degree. Finally the Court observed that the reputation of a public servant cannot be termed as doubtful and his conduct cannot be determined only on spoken words in the absence of any material on record which was the fundamental flaw in the Order issued against the petitioner. [Mohd. Shafi Shah v. Comm. Sectt. PWD, 2018 SCC OnLine J&K 138, decided on 01.03.2018]